494 THE ADVOCATE
VOL. 76 PART 4 JULY 2018
The most telling moment came in an exchange between Dyson and
Peterson. Dyson, who rather impressively quoted everyone from Thomas
Jefferson to Beyoncé Knowles, was asked to respond to Peterson’s inquiry
about where and when the left had gone wrong so that “the reasonable left
pointing to Fry can make its ascendance again and we can quit all this nonsense”.
What he came back with was to ask Peterson, “Why the rage, bruh?
… you’re a mean mad white man! … I have never seen so much whine and
snowflaking. There’s enough whine in here to start a vineyard.” He went on
to accuse Peterson of “lethal ferocity and intensity”, neither of which we
had seen on display.
Dyson actually made Peterson’s point for him. Where political correctness
goes wrong is to resort to the basest of tactics—silencing an opinion
and viewpoint because of one’s gender and ethnicity. Peterson is not permitted
to have a correct view because of his gender and his ethnicity.
“That’s a hell of a thing to say in a debate!” Peterson retorted, returning to
the event in his closing argument as the very sort of thing to be wary of with
regard to political correctness. Another hell of a thing we heard about this
debate arose while authoring this very paragraph. A colleague came by—a
white male colleague of all things—and asked what we were watching/listening
to. We laid out the participants and the topic. After summarily scoffing
at the very idea of the debate and dismissing Peterson as “the angry
white man”, he then asked, “Who is Stephen Fry?” A photograph was
quickly procured online. “Oh, right. He looks like the sort of guy who would
be against political correctness.”
This is where we are at right now with modern discourse. Our freedoms
give each of us the opportunity and the fundamental right to say our piece.
We ought also to be able to listen openly and with a willingness to be persuaded
or to learn or to get to the truth. But political correctness, even
within and among learned members of this noble profession, has reached
the point where views contrary to the orthodoxy are summarily dismissed
based solely on the gender, ethnicity or even the appearance of the speaker.
Throw in a dose of Englishness and the gloves are really off. Never mind
that the man who “looks” incorrect is Jewish, gay and suffers from manic
depression surely qualifying him for some sort of minority trifecta.
This last word, then, shall go to Fry, who ultimately, in our view, ruled
My objection has always been towards orthodoxies. I’m a heterodox and
a contrarian and I can’t help myself. And I think there’s been an underestimation
of the fact that language does affect people. It does make the
young in particular—as they’re starting out on their educational or their
work careers—it makes them very anxious, very angry, very upset, very